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Sir Ken Dodd may have had the last laugh when it came to his tax affairs. By marrying Anne Jones – his partner of 40 years – days before he died, his family managed to avoid a significant Inheritance Tax (IHT) bill.

It has been reported that Sir Ken left his wife a total of £27.5 million. Had they not married, Anne would have faced an IHT bill of up to £11 million. This is because when married couples leave everything to their surviving spouse, there is no IHT to pay on the first death, no matter how big the estate.

What’s more, when couples leave assets to each other, their nil rate bands are also transferred. This means that the surviving spouse can leave behind £650,000 in cash and (assuming they are passing it to children or grandchildren) £300,000 worth of property, free of tax. This does not apply to unmarried couples.

Sir Ken, who was knighted in honour of his decades-long showbiz career and charity work, was accused of tax fraud in 1989 and acquitted following a five-week trial, then later joked about the case.

His wife, Anne, will honour her late husband’s wishes by giving back to the community. She said, “It was his wish that the majority of his estate will go to charities close to his heart.” She plans to support hospitals, animal charities, health charities and his local church.

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